Secrets for Last Minute Vacations

It’s been exactly 15 hours since I booked our latest vacation.

I am almost fully packed and ready – at least mentally and on paper (well, actually, Trello).

We leave in exactly 11 days, 22 hours and 15 minutes from the time I’m writing this. For me, this may almost be considered a planned-ahead vacation.

I’ve said it before and I’m not sure this will ever change, but last-minute vacations are just how I roll.

I was actually looking at a cruise in December – this is my favourite time to cruise because it’s the tail-end of hurricane season, so you can get amazing deals.

Somehow, in our search, a 7-day cruise popped up for under $200 per person. Then $60 flights coincided.

So, naturally, this means we are rearranging our lives, dropping everything and going on vacation.

Even if it means we will miss my favourite holiday, Canadian Thanksgiving.

But, honestly.

I can be thankful in the Caribbean, that’s not a problem.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last 16 years of last-minute travel, it’s how to be completely prepared to travel last-minute.

After I have secured the vacation deal of a lifetime, these are the things I do next so I can be ready to go within just a few days.

Transportation Details

You already know I love a good deal, so it wouldn’t come as a shock to hear that I check and double-check flights, costs, etc. If it’s considerably less than flying immediately, I will book my flights a few days before or after the cruise. This time around, I want to see my sister, so I found a $20 bus ticket from Miami to Orlando on the day we disembark. I’m able to spend some time with her because flights were a lot less leaving from Orlando on the Tuesday.

Explore

I get overly excited when it comes to cruises, so I want to know everything about everything, and then more regarding our vacation. If you log into the cruise website, you can explore the boat, stateroom, boat amenities, spa, excursions, dining and pretty well anything else you want. The thing I love about this is that I don’t have to waste time getting lost on the ship – I already have become familiar with the layout.

Trello

If you haven’t heard of Trello, you are missing out. Trello basically takes all the stress of getting things done out of the picture by keeping everything organized and in order. I have all of these things already set-up in Trello, so once I’ve booked my vacation, I just need to update my Lists. Things I have on my Trello Vacation Board are:

  • To Do List
  • Our Travel Itinerary
  • Packing Lists
  • Excursions/Activities Plan
  • Kid’s Itinerary/Notes (for the sitter)

(If you want to learn more about Trello, Jessica Stansberry made me excited to put it to use)

Cruise/Vacation App

Most cruise lines have their own apps that you can access all the information you want regarding your cruise, excursions, etc. You can even use them to text back and forth with other guests on the ship (although rates may apply). They even have a countdown, in case you’re not excited enough as it is.

Gym Time

I hate feeling frumpy on vacation, so I like to hit the workouts a little harder before I leave for any vacation. The last thing I want is to be self-conscious about summer clothing.

Buy Bathing Suits

Ok, this is probably more of a fun thing I like to do, not necessarily a requirement. Although, this time around, my bathing suit wardrobe is seriously wanting. The great thing right now is that you can find lots of clearance suits. You know I’m all about that.

Pack

Hours after I’ve booked a vacation, my Trello board has my entire packing list all ready to go – only minor tweaks are necessary. So, this makes packing a breeze! I log into Trello, check off items as I throw them together and voila! I’m ready to go!

Now to just sit back and wait for a whole 11 days, 21 hours and 40 minutes.

And this, my friends, is how I keep my sanity when planning for a last-minute vacation. Would you feel stressed out if you had less than 2 weeks to get ready for vacation?

How To Ensure A Bug-Free Hotel Room

I am in Kitchener this weekend…or Waterloo. Well, maybe Bloomingdale. I’m not quite sure.

It took us longer than I’d like, but we’re here. Brian literally dropped me off at the hotel and rushed off to a men’s conference.

I’m tagging along because, why not.

I love travelling. I love getting away. I love taking some time to refresh.

Except.

Hotels.

I have such a high standard for the hotels in which I stay. If you’ve ever travelled with me, you very well may have heard me discuss hotel features, or I may have told you the horror story from West Virginia. I probably wouldn’t go as far to say I’m a hotel snob, but it may be something I’ve been referred to in my lifetime.

So, even though I have high standards in my hotel choices, there is a process that I go through to make sure the room is up to par.

Checking for PESTS

The very first thing I do is freak out!

Well, only if someone walks in before me and plops something down on the bed or the floor.

I always go in and check certain areas before anyone is allowed to make themselves at home.

  1. Threshold & edges of the carpet – If there are pests, you may be able to see black near the edges of the flooring, especially if the carpet is lifted a bit or if it is worn/frayed. The specific places I check are the entrance & bathroom thresholds, the edge of the carpeted baseboards, behind the dresser, and the edges inside the closet.
  2. Picture frames on the wall – Bugs like to hide and behind frames is a common spot they tend to like.
  3. Dresser – I like to open the drawers and see what they look like. I don’t use the dressers in hotels, but it still gives me a snapshot of what’s behind the scene.
  4. Mattress – If you lift up the corner of the mattress, you will be surprised at what you find. More and more hotels are using specific bedbug proof covers, which is great. If there are bedbugs, there will be dark matter in the creases of the mattress edge. If there are no dark spots, there are no bedbugs.

Once I’ve done that, everyone is allowed to put their stuff down.

…but not on the floor.

That’s off-limits.

My rules include:

  • Suitcases only go on the stand
  • Clothes only get hung up, left in the suitcase or put in a hamper (if I brought one)
  • Only disposable cups may be used (glass cups usually are just wiped “clean”)

Then next thing I do is my favourite part. It gives me so much satisfaction and peace of mind. I have a travel kit in which I always keep a travel size bottle of Lysol spray/wipes.

Disinfect/Remove as many germs as possible

  1. The RemoteUgh! I can’t even think about how many germs are on this thing. I have way too many thoughts about what may even be on the remote.
  2. The Bathroom Door Handle – I hate to say it, but I would put money on the fact that many people don’t wash their hands after using the washroom in hotel rooms. I also disinfect the hotel room door handle.
  3. The Telephone – It’s not often that I use the hotel phone, but if I had to, I would want it to be clean. So that gets a wipe down.
  4. The Toilet Flusher – I have heard so many stories about the way hotel bathrooms get cleaned. I’m just not interested in leaving that to chance, so the flusher gets a wipe down too.
  5. The Curtain Stick – I’m not sure that’s what it’s called, but that thing used to draw the blinds…yeah, I’m pretty sure no one thinks to clean that, yet everyone touches it.
  6. The Coffee Maker Display – I don’t ever use the one provided in the room, but if I did, I would clean this too.
  7. The Bed – Ok, I don’t use Lysol for the bed, but I do take the decorative pillows and any cover/coverlet/top blanket and toss them in the corner of the room. Housekeeping doesn’t wash these between guests.

After all this is done, I know that I can sit back and relax, knowing that the place I’m resting my head is clean and in order.

Do you have a routine that you follow when you stay at a hotel? I’d love to hear what you do.

Weekend Getaway | Niagara Falls

Ok, I admit that I watch superhero movies as well as comic book films (are they the same thing?). Except, I couldn’t tell you anything about anybody in any of the films as I’m apparently not fanatic about it.

Sorry, but not entirely.

Nonetheless, we decided to take a trip to Niagara Falls and experience Comic Con for ourselves. Normally when we head there, we spend time visiting family as opposed to doing ‘touristy’ outings, but this time, we decided to switch things up a bit.

Friday after school, we drove 3.5 hours to a place called Fonthill. Imagine the hilly countryside with farms and small towns. A place where you wave to people, just because. We grabbed some pizza and settled in for the night at our dear friends’ house.

Saturday morning we packed up a cooler and headed to the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls. We got there just before 11am and the line to get in was wrapped all the way around the building and then folded around the back side once more. We were told it would be an hour and a half wait – but, you know, we’re hard-core gamers and such, so yeah, we stood in that line and owned it like a boss.

CC LIne

The line actually moved faster than anticipated and within an hour, we were inside and exploring. Forgive me (all you actual gamers/comic lovers), but my first impression was that it was a big flea market of comic book knick knacks and such. There were a few booths that were pretty cool, like the board game one, but it didn’t have the game I’m looking for, so that kinda burst my bubble. The other cool booths were the arcade games and the picture ops with characters.

The picture ops all work on donations, so although it’s not a requirement, you may want to bring smaller bills for donations. The only one that was a bit sketch for me was the batman one. They waited until the kids were standing on either side of batman in front of the bat mobile, then, as I lifted my phone to take a pic, they told me it was a mandatory $10 donation for the photo-op. What am I going to say to my kids at that point, no? No big deal, I just made sure I got a good pic.

CC Batman

Besides the big flea market type expo, they also offered some sessions and panels, which I thought were pretty cool. I went to a special effects session, which was fun to watch since I’m a graphic designer. I can’t say I learned anything (probably because I already knew the basics they taught), but it was fun to hear their backstories on how they got into graphic design and visual effects. I also went to a makeup demo that was quite intriguing. It makes me want to try to do some Disney or comic inspired makeup looks (comment below if you’d like to see that).

CC Visual Effects

We went to two panel sessions. The first was with The Big Show. Now, I’m not a fan of wrestling, but I really enjoyed his session since he came across so caring and compassionate and like a genuinely good guy. Plus, I could follow some of what he said due to my cousins forcing me to watch wrestling when we were kids.

The second panel was with Michael Rooker (Yondu) and Sean Gunn (Rocket). This panel was probably worth buying a Comic Con ticket all on its own. Michael Rooker is absolutely hilarious. They captivated the audience and the time flew by. We laughed almost the entire time.

When we left the convention, we headed down to the Falls. After scoring some ice cream, we walked to the bottom of Clifton Hill and stopped for some pics in front of the Falls. All of a sudden, someone grabbed me from behind (I thought it was Violet). As I turned around, I realized it was a friend of mine! What are the odds?! Such a great surprise!

After taking in the glorious majesty of the Falls, we walked back up Clifton Hill and stopped at the Great Canadian Midway for some games. We played Ghost Blaster, rode the 6D virtual roller coaster and played arcade games for an hour.

We can’t be in Niagara Falls without spending time with Brian’s brother and sister-in-law.  So, we stopped by their place for dinner and a visit. It always makes me wish we lived closer.

On Sunday morning, we decided to visit Jubilee Community Church. Pastor Ralph delivered an amazing message in a series called ‘Read the Book.’ It was such an honour to be a part of their service and see what God is doing through them in Dunnville.

CC Notes

Sunday proved to be a leisurely drive home to Windsor. We had an amazing time in the Niagara Region with many friends and I’m grateful for this little weekend getaway.

Israel – The Garden of Gethsemane

Pinterest Gethsemane

Easter.

What does it mean to you?

Many of you know that I had the privilege to travel to Israel in February (2018). Touring the Holy Land was one of the best travel experiences I’ve had. There is so much rich history and being there painted a picture in my mind that I wish I could capture and retell for all to hear.

Since it’s Easter weekend, here’s a little tidbit of that picture from the Garden of Gethsemane.

Gethsemane 5

Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
Matthew 26:36

Imagine. You’ve lived a good life so far. You’re young – in your prime. When you know that the time has come for you to kick the bucket. But not just the close your eyes and slip into eternity type, the kind where you know you’re going to experience the worst of the worst before you give up the ghost. You know that you have the power to stop the atrocities by making one small decision to do things differently than your father told you. You also know that by saving yourself, you would be denying everyone your father loves dearly from the salvation that you took. It’s either you die like this, or your father’s loved ones will be separated from him forever.

What would you do?

Would that be an easy choice for you?

If it was me, at the very least, I’d be pleading with my father to find another way to accomplish his plan.

And that’s exactly what Jesus did.

Jesus said in Matthew 26 that he felt so sorrowful, even unto death. He took his disciples and asked them to pray while he went to ‘talk to his Father.’ He pleaded so hard that the Bible says he actually sweat drops of blood.

Drops of blood!

Gethsemane 4

When he was finished praying, he knew that this was the only way to save all of humanity.

He had resolve. Resolve to endure.

For you. For me. For all of humanity.

I’m not religious, but I have been a Christian for 30 years. Almost sounds like an oxymoron, but I seriously love the fact that I can know God on a personal level. That’s only possible because of Christ’s death on the Cross.

I’ve always been grateful for what Christ accomplished on the Cross, and now I feel like I’ve experienced a personal connection to His death, burial and resurrection.

Being in the Garden of Gethsemane made that come alive to me.

In our day and age, we look forward to Friday and stress about what comes after Sunday.
But for real.
When you get the revelation…
Friday was a struggle to endure.
But Sunday came.

Gethsemane 2

He is risen. He’s alive.
He’s shaken me to my core.
I believe that my God is about to shake the nations.

Israel Highlights 2018

Israel.

A land fought over. A nation set apart. A people loved by God.

I always had a deep desire to see and experience Israel. I remember in school there was a map mural on the wall above our desks. My desk sat right in front of Israel. Every day I would see Tel-Aviv on the map and I would dream about being there one day.

I never thought it would actually be a reality.

Until.

I was sitting in church, minding my own business. I was literally starting to doodle my sermon notes when they announced that there was still room on the upcoming Israel trip.

My heart leaped.

I didn’t know why. I had constantly said over the years that I wouldn’t ever be able to go because I wouldn’t be able to fly for that long. Fear kind of dictated to me the places I would and wouldn’t go over the years.

I couldn’t get past this feeling, so I whispered to God that I would only go if my father in law approached me on it. I was not going to look into it on my own.

The next morning, I walk into my office, just start putting my things away and my father in law walked in. He said something along the lines of ‘wouldn’t you want to go?’

I was kind of stunned, but I said yes (blah, blah blah, flight too long, nervous, love Israel, blah, blah, blah).

Next thing I knew, Brian was arranging for time off and we were sending our application off to the travel agency.

Done.

I was going to ISRAEL!!!

I was so excited that I started packing right then and there – 2.5 months before our flight was scheduled to leave.

Seriously, this trip did not disappoint!

It’s taking me so long to write about it because there was so much to take in.

If I had to pick my top highlights, I would be here forever because I loved EVERY MINUTE. Nonetheless, here are a few highlights.

See of Galilee
Imagine being on a boat on the Sea of Galilee, worshipping to hymns with your favourite human on Valentine’s Day. The only thing that would’ve made it better is if my kids were with us. The atmosphere is so hard to describe, but the experience will last forever in my heart.

Caesarea
Caesarea blew my mind. All I ever knew about Herod the Great was that he was a brutal, ruthless leader. What I didn’t know was that he was a genius in architecture. Also, as I learned throughout our trip, despite the fact that Herod wanted to kill Jesus, his ingenuity in architecture paved the way for the Gospel of Christ to be spread. See what I mean about blowing my mind?!

Bet She’an
Walking down the cardo (main street), seeing all the rich history of Bet She’an was breathtaking. The city was destroyed by an epic earthquake that devastated and leveled the place. You can literally see how the earth shook in how the ancient ruins are still laid out to this day.

Dead Sea
Experiencing this phenomenal place was such a unique experience. I mean, floating in the water was incredible! There were sharp rocks periodically under the water and we were later told that they are salt deposits or pillars of salt. Sound familiar? Did I just visit Lot’s wife?

Dead Sea

Jerusalem
There is so much beauty in Jerusalem, and overall it was truly breathtaking. It’s busy, and seeing all the points in Old Jerusalem and everything in between is a lot to take in. It’s a place where I feel like I left a piece of me and definitely want to go back and explore longer. My most solemn moment was with my sister-in-law when we visited the Wailing Wall – truly a memory I will cherish forever.

Ok, I could seriously go on and on and on with this post.

But I won’t.

Visiting Israel really connected history, the Bible and modern-day life for me in a way that I can’t even explain. Leaving Israel I feel like I have caught a glimpse of how much God loves Israel.

I will be back…

Have you ever visited Israel? Let me know your favourite thing about Israel in the comments below.

Travel for Less

There are 2 things I love in life – spending money and saving money.

If only I could do both simultaneously…except I can! (and I do)

Seriously, my husband loves me for it!

Ok, maybe love is a strong word, but who doesn’t love someone who saves a boatload of money?!?

One thing I always save money on, besides everything, is travel. It’s something that just thrills me to find a great deal.

I just love an amazing luxurious vacation without the price tag.

Is it a coincidence that my maiden name is ‘Price’??

I say it’s meant to be.

Think about this:
more planning/prep equals less $$ spent
less planning/prep equals more $$ spent.

Without much further ado, here are my top 10 ways to save on your next vacation.

Always be on the lookout
Frequently take a quick look through a few of your favourite vacation websites to see what’s out there, what’s on sale and what you’d like

Be flexible
Sometimes, people choose travel dates for many different reasons. If you can, be flexible with the dates you want to go. Last year when we went to Cancun, leaving 2 days earlier than originally planned saved us money.

Book last-minute
Some of the best deals are last minute. I can’t even count how many times I get into convos with people on vacation that tell me the steal of a deal they got that was hundreds of dollars above the price I paid.

Be prepared
Almost all of my trips are booked last-minute – I’m talking the book on Tuesday, leave on Friday type. This can be hard, especially if you have kids/pets to make arrangements for, but we have made it work with our 2 kids and a dog. The key is preparation. I always have a process that I follow once I book a vacation (like lists of babysitters, meal prep, packing lists, etc.) and it seriously helps me in those moments that I wake up deciding to go on vacation.

Be open-minded
It can be very easy to get caught up in going to the same places you swear by, but think about trying a new resort, cruise line, airline or destination. You may be pleasantly surprised.

However, this leads me to tip #6…

Check unbiased reviews & video footage
This isn’t really a money-saving tip, but it can be if you tend to waste your money on resorts that aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Resorts, hotels, cruise ships, etc. all want you to pick them. They will post the best pictures and sometimes they even give incentives to people to write good reviews about them. Check out recent, real people reviews and footage.

This is actually something that made me think about blogging – none of the reviews I read/saw gave an accurate depiction of the beach/oceanfront. When we got to one destination, there was a 5 day rain streak and we noticed that they pumped all the rain water into the ocean directly in front of the resort. Let’s just say it looked and smelled like decaying flesh (it was actually decaying trees branches). We won’t be going back there.

Cruise
Cruising can be a great way to see many different places without spending the money on traveling individually to each of those places. There are many cruise lines that offer discounts and incentives.

Travel off-season or during rainy season
I know it sounds unappealing to go to a warm, tropical destination and have it rain on your parade. Just hear me out…tropical rainy seasons aren’t like the rain we get here (Canada), they usually get spurts of rain, followed by bursts of sunshine. Within my short 15 years of cruises and resorts (most of them during rainy season), I’ve only had 1 vacation that it rained non-stop for 5 days – and the locals said it was not normal.

Fly the deals
There are many ways to save on flights. If you stick with the same airline, you can get miles to use toward flights. I’ve never personally done this yet because we’ve generally flown with Spirit or Sunwing, but I do have a new favourite airline – Southwest! You can definitely find cheaper base prices with Spirit, but I recently flew with Southwest and loved everything about it. I’m now at a place in life where I value my comfort more than saving $$. (Shh, don’t tell Brian!)

Think outside the box
This is actually better suited for a blog post on it’s own, but it’s worth mentioning in saving money. You know how people buy timeshares? You know how those same people don’t always get the week(s) they want so they don’t go? Guess what happens to those timeshare rooms/condos. They sell them to money-saving gurus like me! It’s called vacation resort certificates and you can buy them for super cheap. We went to Florida for 2 weeks and only paid $500 for a 2 story condo with 2 bedrooms, full kitchen, full laundry, that backed onto an outlet mall and was 15 minutes from Disney. We were able to use the money we saved to bring the kids to Disney, their water parks, Legoland, Arabian Knights & more!

So there you have it! My top 10 money-saving tips for vacation. Let me know in the comments below how you save money when you vacation.

10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Grand Cayman

7 Mile Beach
Photo by Marc Babin on Unsplash

If I ever go missing, you’ll know where to find me.

Imagine trying to wave for a taxi, exhausted after an afternoon in the sun. You’re standing on the wrong side of the road. The taxi is heading away from the port, but the driver says he can bring you back before you need to board your cruise ship.
You get in.
There are 2 people in the van already. They begin talking about life on the island, pointing out their favourite places. The taxi stops and picks up an elderly lady. She climbs in the front and joins the conversation, adding some history and memories. At the next stop, the couple leaves the taxi. On and on, dropping off and picking up people on the journey, each person adds a story or personal touch to the ongoing conversation about the island.
When you get back to the ship, the driver charges you the amount of money it would have cost you if you went directly back to the port. Then you find out that all those people, all those stories were his family and friends and you realize that he brought you into a glimpse of his home and gave you a part of his heritage – just because you were standing on the wrong side of the road.

That was the day I fell in love with Grand Cayman.

If that story doesn’t capture your heart, here are 10 more reasons why you should visit Grand Cayman.

  1. 7 Mile Beach
    Imagine a pristine beach that goes on as far as your eyes can see. 7 Mile Beach does not disappoint. If you ever go to Grand Cayman, this is the place to be!
  2. Stingray City
    This place is a large sandbar area sitting within the barrier reef that surrounds the island. It’s where the stingrays come to get fed. Apparently the fishermen of old used to go to this place to clean their fish. The stingrays thrived on what was thrown overboard and began associating the boats with food. It soon became a tourist attraction. The beauty is in the extremely friendly nature of the stingrays.
  3. Crystal Caves
    Brush up on your stalagmites and stalactites, because you’ll be seeing them here. The beauty of the natural caves are unique and fascinating.
  4. Hell
    Have you ever been to Hell and back again? Well, this is the Hell you would love to go to! It is full of limestone formations. It is quite small – about half of a football field. Although you won’t be able to walk among the formations, you will be able to see them and take photos from platforms.
  5. Dive Sites
    There are over 200 dive sites on Grand Cayman. If diving is your thing, take some time to check out some of the options here.
  6. Botanical Park
    This 65-acre park has beautiful tropical landscapes and trails. There are 5 themed gardens that you can explore on your own or with a tour. The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is famous for its Blue Iguana Recovery Programme. You can see the ‘blue dragons’ roaming around the park.
  7. Wreck of the Ten Sail
    If you’re a history buff, or love a good shipwreck story, the Wreck of the Ten Sail is for you. It is a historic shipwreck that happened near Grand Cayman way back in 1794.
  8. Starfish Point
    At Starfish Point you will find a breath-taking, remote beach with crystal clear water. Come see starfish, or sea stars naturally in their habitat.
  9. Coral Garden
    This is a great place for shallow snorkeling. It is located inside the barrier reef and you will find beautiful fish, corals and sea creatures.
  10. Turtle Centre
    A beautiful place to encounter Sea Turtles. They even have an annual turtle release that takes place during Pirate’s Week in November.

Obviously, my personal favourite and what won my heart was the beauty and heart of the locals. Nothing will ever top that. Theodore Roosevelt once said, ‘Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.’

I must say that I agree.

Have you ever been to the Cayman Islands? There are so many more things to do! What is your favourite thing in Grand Cayman? Let me know in the comments below!

Cruises vs Resorts

I was 21, just married and had never been on an actual vacation before. I knew so little about travel, that I didn’t even know I needed a passport.

I had no clue.

I literally got my passport less than 48 hours before we left for our honeymoon.

We cruised the Caribbean for 7 days on Princess Cruise Lines. It was heavenly. From that moment I was sold on cruises.

Until.

We went to an all-inclusive resort.

I’ve been to 2 resorts and have cruised 7 times. I’m still deciding whether it’s better to cruise or go to a resort. Here are some of my thoughts on cruises and resorts.

Cruises

Internet
Internet hasn’t always been available on cruises. You can now get internet packages on cruises, but they do cost some dollars. I personally like being disconnected from the stresses, but I usually find a café with internet when we get to each port.

Food
There is always an amazing array of food when you cruise. There are always plenty of options and you will never go hungry! My favourite cruise line is Norwegian and it’s partly because of the food.

Excursions
With cruises, you are at different ports throughout your vacation. This gives you opportunity to book the best excursions at the best places. Brian & I like to live life on the edge, so there are some ports that we find locals to bring us on excursions. When we went on our honeymoon, we chartered our own boat (with some locals), went snorkeling and deep-sea fishing for the day for a fraction of the cruise price.

Entertainment
Cruise lines put a great emphasis on entertainment. They have jazz clubs, comedy clubs, nightly shows, movies, games, bingo, etc. There is always something happening somewhere on the ship.

Swimming
I’m not going to lie. I don’t love swimming on cruises. The pools are usually packed and it’s hard to find a chair near the pool. Except the water slides – waiting in line is worth it. There’s also options such as The Haven. They have their own pools, sun decks, etc.
Maybe one day I’ll splurge for the sake of a review. You know, for you.

Spa
The spa is usually my downfall on a cruise. I was introduced to the spa on the cruise we took from New York in the winter. Not only was it freezing most of the time, but I also tore my meniscus right before we boarded the cruise. My hubby offered to get me the spa package to make me feel better. Little did he know that it would be my new expectation for every cruise.
There are only a certain amount of thermal spa packages available. The thermal spa usually includes a variety of whirlpools, heated ceramic loungers, salt rooms, saunas, steam rooms, ice fountains, etc.

Gym
The gym is almost always packed out the first day or two on a cruise – and it’s usually the treadmills. The area with the weights and benches usually only attract the hard-core gym-goers. One cruise, this intoxicated peanut of a man tried to take some weights from another bodybuilder.
Bold move.
I was sure I was going to witness some sort of crime. Just as Mr. Bodybuilder was about to pummel the kid, a sweet, little lady walked between them and softly, but sternly told them to grow up. I kid you not, it was as if it was straight out of a movie!

 

Resorts

Internet
At a resort, you can choose how (dis)connected you want to be. Some resorts have free wi-fi in the lobby for an hour, some have free wi-fi throughout the resort. The thing I love about this is that I can still talk to my kids when I’m away.

Food
I haven’t been to a lot of resorts, but my experience so far hasn’t been amazing. At the resorts I have been to, I usually only eat to live, not live to eat. The last resort that I was at I found a sandwich and fries from the sports bar that was decent. I literally ate that every day for the whole trip. Food is not my favourite part of resorts.

Excursions
Resorts do offer excursions. I haven’t taken one yet, because I’m not entirely confident in them. Plus, there’s only so many excursions you can do when you’re stationed in one place the whole week.

Entertainment
I have split reviews on resort entertainment. Poolside entertainment looked fun, but didn’t pull at my attention. As for the nightly entertainment, it really depends on the resort. One resort had a show one night, but the rest of the week everything closed and everyone went to their rooms by 8pm. Another resort we went to had breathtaking shows every night and they even transformed the courtyard into a local market one night. Amazing.

Swimming
See that line where the sky meets the sea, it calls me. When we went to Puerto Vallarta, you could find us boogie boarding in the ocean non-stop. It wasn’t until the day we were leaving when we found out that the red flag had been up the whole week and the beach had technically been closed. Oops. But the waves were amazing! Although the ocean did steal my favourite pair of Fendi sunglasses. Just be sure to check the resort beach ahead of time as some beaches supersede others.
Now for the poolside. We went into the pool once. We were together. Then Matt came. Who is Matt? I don’t know, but he was single and available. Me? I was taken and happily married (while pointing to Brian). We tend to skip the poolside now at resorts.

Spa
When I’m at a resort, I won’t use the spa unless the weather is horrible. The last resort we went to we booked the thermal spa for 2 days because it rained for 5 out of the 7 days of our vacation. It did not even compare to the thermal suite on a cruise.

Gym
Ok, I’m split on this too. I’m guessing that each resort has different gym qualities. One had only 3 machines in it, one was a full gym. It’s never going to be my home gym, but it’s enough to get by.

In conclusion, I like both. I can’t decide which is better. Maybe you can help me. What do you like better – resorts or cruises? Comment below.

10 Days In A Carry On

My heart never cried to tour Israel. I liked the thought of it, but the overnight flight acted as a strong deterrent. I always figured I would have to wait for life on the other side to see Israel.

Then one day my father in law announced at church that there were still some seats open for the trip he was organizing. My heart leaped and I desperately wanted to be there. Still bugged about the long haul flight, I put it out there in my heart that if it was something I should do, it would have to happen without me asking about it.

The next morning at work, my father in law walked in my office and said something about how I should come on the trip.

Next thing I knew, we were sending our applications off. After a few minor obstacles, we were booked on the trip.

I was so excited that I started packing right away – literally 2 months before the trip!

sheri packing

My main goal was to pack in a carry on only. I like a challenge, but mostly I detest the hassle of dredging along with suitcases that could run me over if I lose control of it while walking downhill.

Although I worked and reworked my carry on over and over, I couldn’t quite get it under the 8 kg weight limit. By the night before our trip, I had it down to 8.6 kg.

However!

Due to an ice storm and our schedule being moved up by a day, the extra time I needed to shave off that last .6 of a kilo eluded me.

My daughter told me just to take her new Captain America suitcase and check it.

I did.

All that to say, this post is all about what I packed for my trip to Israel (in February).

Sleep/Awake Bag

Here is where I put everything that I will need to sleep on the plane and then wake up refreshed. Things I include are:

  • Sleep mask
  • Comfy socks
  • Compression socks
  • Sleep supplements & medications
  • Earplugs
  • Eye drops
  • Hand cream
  • Lip balm
  • Powder Face wash or cleansing wipes
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Makeup Bag

Makeup Bag

I usually save all my samples from Sephora and use them in my makeup bag. Some things I need more than a sample, so I will bring the original bottle (if it’s under 100 ml).

Liquids

I first put together all of my other bags and then whatever is a liquid, gel or aerosol, I take and put in my Ziploc bag.

Purse/Personal Bag

This is the bag that goes under the seat in front of me on the plane.

  • Sleep/Awake Bag
  • Headphones
  • Documents
  • Gum/mints/snacks
  • Water bottle
  • Phone/iPad
  • Journal
  • Pens
  • Sunglasses

Documents

I like to keep all of our important documents together.

  • Passports/ID
  • Tickets
  • Travel Documents

Carry On

Here is the clothing I packed for a 10 day vacation.

  • 4 pairs of pants (1 pr of jeans/1 casual pants/2 leggings)
  • 5 shirts
  • 3 tank tops
  • Unmentionables 😉
  • 2 pairs of pajamas
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 6 pairs of socks
  • 2 sweaters (1 thick hoodie/1 cardigan)
  • Winter Jacket
  • 4 pairs of shoes (Converse/Vibram 5 Fingers/Vibram Moccasins/Flip Flops)
  • Razor
  • Hair Accessories
  • Tide Travel Packs

All of this fit into my carry on, with the exception of my .6 kg overweight. I used everything I brought and never felt like I forgot anything.

Do you have other travel essentials that you bring on your travels? Comment below.

*Disclosure: Some of the links are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. There is no added cost to you.

6 Jet Lag Hacks

It’s 2am. Somehow I have an internal alarm clock that went off. Now I can’t get back to sleep. You see, I’m warm and snuggled in my bed in Canada, but my body believes I’m heading out for a full day of touring in Israel.

Jet lag.

On the way there it wasn’t as bad. We landed and started our day. The roughest part was the next morning when I didn’t hear the wake up call and only bolted awake 20 minutes before the bus was scheduled to leave. I still had to get ready and pack my suitcase. I would have to bypass breakfast and put my makeup on in the bus. I made it, but it could be because the bus was late to pick us up. We’ll never know.

I’ll say this. The jet lag I experienced travelling 7 hours ahead didn’t seem as bad as the jet lag I experienced travelling 7 hours behind.

Here are my tips for by-passing jet lag as soon as possible.

Prepare

There’s nothing like going on a trip of lifetime. Then there’s nothing like going there with the expectation that jet lag won’t affect you. If you prepare ahead of time, your body will thank you later. If you are travelling ahead in time, go to bed and wake up an hour earlier each day for a few days before you leave. It will help alleviate the shock of time change. Use a sunrise alarm clock to help.

Set your time

When you set your watch/phone to the time zone that you are travelling to, it helps trick your brain into helping your body bypass jet lag. The best time to do this is as soon as you get on the airplane (or just before).

Stay awake

As soon as we landed in Israel, we went straight into touring. It wasn’t a hefty schedule, but it was enough to help us stay awake until the evening. Very smart and strategic. Try to stay awake during daytime hours and try not to nap or your body will grasp at straws and give you a hard time about switching time zones. I made the mistake of taking a nap the day we arrived home. When my kids came home from school and tried to wake me, I couldn’t get myself together and asked them if they were real or if I was dead. Oops!

Sleep

When bedtime comes, take supplements to help you sleep. The very first thing I use in my ‘get to sleep’ routine is essential oils. For some reason the doTERRA Peace blend knocks me out every time. Melatonin is also great for naturally getting your body to sleep. If Melatonin doesn’t quite do it, ZZZ Quill is a great over the counter sleep aid. As a last resort, if needed, see your doctor before your vacation for something stronger to knock you out.

Caffeinate

The morning after we arrived, I felt delirious. I’m sure it was a scene that, if my husband had recorded it, it would’ve made it onto America’s Funniest Videos. I could NOT get it together. I was awake and not tired, but I couldn’t think straight. My husband literally held my hand and walked me to the caffeine station. Within minutes, my brain was back to functioning and I was ready to see Israel.

Hydrate

Last, but not least, hydrate. Drink as much water as you can. Your body is made up of a whole lot of water and by replenishing it, it will do what it does at it’s best – function.

Have you ever experienced jet lag? What are some tips that you swear by? Comment below.

*Disclosure: Some of the links are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. There is no added cost to you.